HC Deb 11 November 1927 vol 210 cc585-7

I beg to move, in page 19, line 16, at the end, to insert the words: (3) In any proceedings before the tribunal not more than one expert witness on either side shall be heard unless the tribunal otherwise directs. I think this provision is of great importance.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in page 19, line 20, after the word "tribunal," to insert the words "if a tribunal other than the High Court."

Clause 20 provides that for the purpose of this Act the tribunal may consist of one of a panel of referees, but in cases involving questions of law or on account of the magnitude of the claim, it is thought desirable that the matter should be tried by the High Court. A Judge may order that the claim shall be tried in the High Court. Sub-section (3) of Clause 20 provides that: The decision of the tribunal on any question of fact shall be final and binding on the parties and the persons claiming under them respectively, but the tribunal may, and shall if the High Court so directs, state at any stage of the proceedings in the form of a special case for the opinion of the High Court any question of law arising in the course of the proceedings. The difficulty is which is the tribunal referred to in the first line of Sub-section (3). As a matter of construction, it refers to both forms of the tribunal, that is the panel of referees and the High Court. The result is that the High Court has been directed by this provision to direct itself to state a case for its own consideration, and of course that would be an absurdity, and cannot be intended. Supposing the word "tribunal" does not include the High Court, then you get this result that you have a provision saying that the decision of one of a panel of referees on questions of fact shall be binding, and you leave an appeal to the High Court on questions of fact. It cannot be intended that there should be a right of appeal on questions of fact to the Judge and no right of appeal on questions of fact from the referees.

If it be thought necessary to preserve the right of appeal on questions of fact from the superior Court, surely there ought to be the same right of appeal from the panel of referees. The Amendment I am suggesting would clear up all those doubts, and it would make it clear that the word "tribunal" refers to both forms. It would also make it clear that the decision of both tribunals on questions of fact should be final and binding. I submit that this instruction would be perfectly simple and the result would be logical. As it is you get into difficulties whichever meaning is given to the tribunal. In the one case you have the High Court being permitted to state a case for its own consideration, and in the other case you have the anomaly of the decision of the Judge being open to appeal, while there is no appeal from the decision of the lesser tribunal.


I beg to second the Amendment.


My hon. and learned Friend has a number of Amendments on the Paper, some of which I can accept, but this one raises a complicated point which I should not like to decide in the absence of the Law Officers. Might I make the suggestion that I will consult the Lord Chancellor upon it? My Parliamentary draftsmen tell me that the Bill is rightly drawn, and that the meaning of the words "High Court" is confined by Subsection (1) of Clause 20 to certain provisions of the Bill only. While I have the greatest respect for my hon. and learned Friend as a lawyer—and, of course, also as an individual—I got out of it just in time—I will, if he will allow me, consider the point again before the Bill reaches another place.



Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 19, line 27, after the word "from" insert the words "any decision of."—[Mr. Atkinson.]